From the clubhouse the water was bathed in bright sunshine but on stepping outside the bitingly cold northerly wind made us realise that it is still early spring. With only two on board we decided to leave the spinnaker in the bag and fly the new heavy jib which proved to be the right decision. The Y flag was flown so that lifejackets were worn which pleased me because my old fashioned one keeps me warm and is not too bulky.
The bigger boats in E and Q fleet started first with most flying their spinnakers on starboard pole knowing that they would have to gybe to run down the harbour. We made a good start poling out the jib but two of the competitors flying their spinnakers soon overtook us and the newly repainted Nitro gave us a good view of the bright burning orange multi-chine hull as they overtook.
We gybed to reach across towards the Vilt, our first mark, and the boat speed was good but as we hardened in the others eased sheets and ran square down wind and we realised that they were on a different course. A quick shout to Wilkie confirmed our doubts and so we bore away, poled out the jib and goose winged downwind following the others. At the mark we hardened in, flattened the main and set off to the Governor which we all reached without tacking and the next leg to Sunbeam was even easier to reach.
As we approached the mark we had to thread our way through the bigger boats in Q fleet who were on starboard. After turning the mark we were at last on the beat and this allowed us to catch up and overtake some of our class but as we came into the harbour the channel narrows and we mingled with all the other classes.
The new jib worked well on the beat but the plastic grippers on the forestay were stiff and difficult to undo with cold fingers but I enjoyed my first race of the season.
Afterwards in the clubhouse the fish pie followed by apple crumble were delicious. It was interesting to talk to the new owner and crew of Macavity when we discussed styles of launching and repacking spinnakers, who accept that much of this season will be a learning curve finding out how to maximise performance. Other newcomers were in a similar position but the steady breeze and flat seas did not cause too many problems for them. I have to report that there are now two scoring systems for our results and I understand neither fully so if you have any questions please don't ask me! They are the NHC and TCF methods.
In all fleets except the Sunbeams, the elapsed time is adjusted by the handicap to give a corrected time. TCF is Time Correction Factor, used to multiply the elapsed time to arrive at the corrected time. This is the adjustment technique used by the Gaffers, the Working Boats and IRC rated boats. NHC (National Handicap for Cruisers) is also a time correction factor, but it is a personal handicap which adjusts through the series according to performance. Harold was obviously more comfortable with the PY handicap where the elapsed time was divided by the PY number and then multiplied by 1000. Now we just multiply by the TCF.